Always one to come up with some interesting factoids and numbers about the NBA, ESPN Reporter Tom Haberstroh is at it again by breaking down just how arduous a journey an 82 game schedule is for NBA teams.
This tweet from Haberstroh puts in perspective the amount NBA teams travel every season…
NBA teams travel a total of 1,300,000 miles in an 82-game season, which is enough to circle Earth 53 times. https://t.co/L3TMpxm0cZ
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) December 27, 2016
This is what happens when you have 30 NBA franchises 3,000 miles apart playing each other 82 times in about 170 day span. That’s approximately one game every 2.07 days.
Here is a chart breaking down the total mileage each NBA team will travel during the 2016-17 regular season:
— Tom H (@Pianomover) December 27, 2016
As you can see the Warriors and the Trail Blazers are logging the most travel miles this season as they are the farthest from the east coast. This combined with the Warriors number of playoff games the past few seasons and lack of bench depth could potentially have an affect on Golden State come May and June.
There is a reason the league is limiting the pre-season and opting to start the regular season earlier, they are trying to lessen some of the extreme travel demands of the grueling NBA schedule.
This is precisely why you see more and more NBA teams resting star players sparingly such as the Cavaliers did with LeBron James for their game in Detroit on Monday night. The Spurs were (shockingly) ahead of the curve with this trend of minimizing the affects of a grueling schedule. They have been resting their stars for years. The Warriors chase for the wins record last season may be a big reason why they appeared to run out of gas in the final two series of the playoffs and ultimately loss the NBA Finals after holding a 3-1 lead on the Cavaliers.
Although the number of games is higher in the MLB and the amount of physical wear and tear is much higher in the NFL, no league has the level of jet lagged and travel induced exhaustion as the NBA.
So much so that ESPN wrote an interesting piece on “scheduled losses” in October that used advanced statistical models to determine the games in which teams were highly likely to lose based on the schedule crunch and travel situation.
So far there have been four games in the 2016-17 season that have been rated an 8.5 or higher on the loss probability scale; the Hornets and Pistons on November 29, Lakers and Grizzlies on December 3, Bulls and Pistons on December 6, and the Warriors and Timberwolves on December 11.
The team that were projected to lose (Hornets, Lakers, Bulls and Warriors) lost three of the four games with the sole winner being the Warriors in Minnesota while playing their fifth game in seven nights and coming off of an embarrassing loss in Memphis the night before.
Here is the story on ESPN.com: NBA Scheduled Losses
So the next time you see a seemingly healthy star sitting out a game or wonder why a good team is looking uncharacteristically flat on a given night take a look at the schedule and you may find your answer.